Agricultural damage tops NT$448.1 mil.

By Christine Chou, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan–Nationwide livestock and crop yield losses reached NT$448.1 million, according to the latest figures released by the Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. In the past week, while residents flocked to scenic locations to catch a rare glimpse of snowfall on the island, farmers were struggling to cope with the impact of record low temperatures.

Affected farmers are encouraged to apply for the Executive Yuan’s emergency funding from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4, stated the COA. Applications will be processed over the weekend as well. The Emergency Aid Reserve, available only when justified for unforeseen major crises, was resorted to after the COA reported its agricultural support funds were dwindling. Tainan City suffered the most damage, having reported a devastating loss of more than NT$23 billion — accounting for 57 percent of total national losses.

The cold snap killed over half the farmed fish in Greater Tainan, Taiwan’s largest fisheries zone by area, said government officials, most of which comprised milkfish, tilapia, grouper fish and clams. Also badly hit, Yunlin County (雲林縣) saw losses totaling NT$78.8 million. Miaoli County (苗栗縣) was estimated to have lost NT$47 million, and Chiayi County (嘉義縣) reported a loss of NT$21.5 million. Gov’t Urges Quick Action The Fisheries Agency (FA, 漁業署) has offered its support to farms affected by the mass fish deaths, in hopes of helping them recover and minimize losses prior to the Lunar New Year celebrations. Agency officials urged all local governments to take early action in assisting affected farmers, and report individual assessment reports as soon as they are completed.

There is no need to wait until the entire region has been accessed to file the subsidy applications, said officials. Also, the FA stated local governments could seek assistance from any National Military Command Centers in the region to help remove fish corpses from the waters, as well as subsequent disinfecting procedures. Strawberry Fields Hard Hit Crop losses in Taiwan totaled NT$77.3 million as a result of the cold spell, while more than 1,583 hectares of crop fields were affected. Strawberry farmers encountered the most damage at NT$22.9 million, with around 154 hectares of strawberry fields ruined, according to COA estimates. Remaining losses in the agricultural sector were concentrated in ginger, persimmon, wax apples and pears.